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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on CJ Abrams fitting in; Aníbal Sánchez’s contributions + more

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability before last night’s game...

Getting To Know CJ:

Davey Martinez had a talk with 21-year-old shortstop CJ Abrams after the Nationals brought the infielder, acquired from San Diego in the trade which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell over to the Padres at the deadline, up to play short in the majors on Monday, and got a good feel for the future captain of the club’s infield.

Martinez watched Abrams go through his pregame routine, then he got to watch the highly-regarded, 2019 1st Round pick go out and compete against the Chicago Cubs with mixed results the first time out, but he liked what he saw overall from one of the five prospects in the deal with the Padres.

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“He’s a quiet kid,” Martinez said. “But he’s very — very emotional in the dugout. Like he was cheering for his teammates. I know when [Nelson] Cruz-y hit his home run, [Abrams] gave me a high-five. But man he’s all-in. He loves to play. You can see that in him, and like I said, he’s so young, you know, but he’s excited to be here, and I’m looking forward to watching him play every day.”

The fifth-year manager said he was also happy to see his ballclub welcome the third piece in the trade (along with currently IL’d, but in D.C. lefty MacKenzie Gore and veteran slugger Luke Voit) to come up to the majors since the August 2nd swap.

“He’s kind of been around,” Martinez said. “Our guys are pretty good about going to a new player and making him fit right in, and I saw that yesterday. Him and Luis [García] talked for quite a bit, and he talked to a lot of guys, different guys, but he’s going to be just fine here.

“Hey look, we’ve got some young guys, so they’re all going to be okay.”

And they should be adding (at least) two more players when rosters expand in September.

Riley Adams - Remember Him?:

Will Riley Adams, who was player acquired at the 2021 trade deadline, and played 27 games as Keibert Ruiz’s backup this season before he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester back at the end of June, be one of the players who come up again at some point before the end of the season?

“Yeah, I think we’ll see him back up here again,” Davey Martinez said on Tuesday afternoon in his pregame press conference.

“He’s doing well. He had a wrist injury that he had to nurse for a little bit, but now he’s catching, he’s playing a little bit of first, he’s DHing a little bit. His swing has improved. Which is good.”

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“He’s driving the ball, which is good,” Martinez continued, “... which is what we wanted him to do.

“We want to continue to keep him going and get the reps every day, and then we’ll see where we’re at here in a couple weeks.”

Sending Adams down to get some work in at first, which is in part how they explained it at the time he was optioned, made sense, considering the club was likely to (and did) trade Josh Bell in his final year of team control before free agency, but the wrist issue did limit the 26-year-old catcher who’d played in a total of 24 games as of last night, 16 as a catcher, six as a DH, and just two at first base.

If/when he comes back up, where would he fit in on the big league roster?

“You talk about somebody — he could DH some days too, against lefties, but I definitely would want him to catch,” Martinez said.

Aníbal Contributing:

With the start of his 16th major league season delayed until mid-July by a cervical nerve impingement in his neck, Aníbal Sánchez, who sat out of the 2021 campaign, and is 38 years old now, has struggled to get up to speed after missing so much time and coming back to the Nationals’ rotation.

He has, however, found ways to contribute beyond taking the ball every time since he’s been up.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“You know how Aníbal is — he keeps everybody going,” Davey Martinez said before the start of last night’s game. “He’s got a lot of energy, he’s out there, he’s competing, he’s actually done fairly well for us, so it’s good to have him back. I mean, he was frustrated early in the season because he couldn’t get his neck right, and now he’s back and for me it’s almost like his first outing or two he was struggling with a lot of different things, and I had to remind him that he missed almost 3 12, 4 months of the season, so he’s almost playing catch-up, and now he’s starting to feel a lot better, he’s starting to pitch better, his location has been a lot better. You’re starting to see the Aníbal that we’ve seen before, so it’s kind of good, and like I said, I love having him, he’s great in the clubhouse, he’s great with the young kids, he’s great for our catchers. Keibert [Ruiz], he talks to Keibert a lot, about sequences and stuff of that nature, to help him out, so he’s been awesome.”

How is the team, as a team, holding up right now, with the changes at the deadline, and all the losing, and stuff?

“Awesome,” Martinez said. “These guys are awesome. Like I said, I go in there and they’re all just ready to play, all happy, all getting ready to play, and when the game starts, as you can see, they play hard. The effort is there, and like I said, I’ve seen some of our guys getting a little better, which is good. And they’re having a lot of fun, I know they want to win, and they’re performing like they want to win. Sometimes we just fall short, but I love the attitude that they got and the energy in the dugout has been great.”